Monday, July 11, 2016

Frugal Accomplishments

This past week was hit and miss on the frugal accomplishments.  We did really well with our regular things, but ended up having to get the Subaru towed for some work.  (Thankfully, we have AAA, so the towing was free.)  Here's how we saved last week:

  • Cooked all meals at home or with friends from things on hand.  This included broccoli and cheese casserole, lentil sloppy joes, black bean enchiladas, homemade chicken tenders, salads, black bean burgers, bagel pizzas, and homemade bagel chips.
  • Accepted castoffs from the food pantry including kale (loads of it), bagels, sugar snap peas, snow peas, red peppers, jalapenos, two loaves of french bread, squash, and some broccoli and carrot mixes.  We processed most of this for the freezer.  
  • I made four batches of bagel chips for snacking.  We made one batch of kale chips in the dehydrator.
  • Continued to compost kitchen scraps, used paper towels and paper bags, and composted shredded paper.
  • Picked and froze three quarts of blueberries from friends.  Began picking blackberries as they ripen.
  • Made two sticks of herb butter for the freezer using parsley, dill, and garlic from the garden and our CSA.
  • Made two gallons of herbal tea using mint and lemon balm from the garden.
  • Browsed my canning books to refresh my memory on the amount of fruit needed for some recipes.  Planning to try making blueberry mint jam with a friend in the next week or so.
  • Used an empty cardboard box to line the new garden bed as a weed barrier.
  • Took containers to local brewery to collect spent grains.  We'll pick those up this week and spread them in the garden mixed with compost.  We'll cover them with newspaper, as the spent grains can be kind of smelly.  This will need to rest for a few months before planting.
  • Spent a few days with friends helping them install kitchen cabinets and mow their grass (their mower is broken).  This saved them significantly, and they'll return the favor when we have some patio work to do, which will save us some money.
  • Had some unexpected news that our downstairs tenant will be leaving, but we've already scheduled several showings, and had two that are promising.
  • Showed the upstairs space to a very promising tenant.  He seems like he'll be a perfect fit with our family and really seems excited at the prospect of living here with our family.
  • Renewed books online to save a trip to the library.
  • Hung all laundry out to dry on line or on drying rack.  Most laundry was washed in cold water, with the exception of diapers and towels.
  • Completed one scholarship application for little man's preschool.  I plan to call about another application tomorrow.
  • We celebrated our anniversary with a meal out, which we budgeted for.  The restaurant is one of our favorites, the Blowing Rock Ale House, where they make everything from scratch including condiments.  It's worth it to save for and splurge every once in a while.  We skipped dessert and made these cheesecake bars at home.  We replaced the graham cracker crust with a chocolate graham cracker one, which made them doubly good.
What about you?  What did you do to live and save green last week?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July Meal Plan

This month is all about using what we have, minimizing expenses, and not heating up the kitchen.  We'll of course be making good use of the excellent summer produce from our CSA, be purchasing our share of fresh fruit from local vendors to feed little man and ourselves, and picking our share of fresh goodies from our garden, generous friends' berry bushes, and the neighborhood roadside blackberries.  We're also probably going to be gifted some items from the food pantry, so we'll include those in the plan too.

Without further ado, here's the plan:

Breakfasts:  egg and cheese sandwiches on bagels, fruit smoothies with yogurt, homemade granola and yogurt with berries, crockpot oatmeal and a new breakfast rice porridge I'm dying to try, bagels with cream cheese, raspberry muffins, blueberry muffins or blueberry buckle, whole wheat and berry scones

Lunches:  leftovers, grilled/roasted veggie sandwiches with herbed ricotta cheese, smoothies, chicken salad sandwiches

Dinners:  lentil sloppy joes with roasted veggies, dinner salads with hard boiled eggs or tuna, roasted turkey (using the crockpot roaster) with salad and crock pot baked potatoes, black bean tacos with summer squash and greens, beans and rice with fixin's, turkey salad with fresh fruit, grilled lamb chops (from the food pantry that are in our freezer) with salad and rice pilaf, veggie stir fry, sausages over rice with cucumber/squash vinegar slaw, pesto pizza with salad

Putting Up Projects:  This is the time of year that we try to put away fresh goodies for later in the year.  I'll be making the following things this month for later use:

  • pesto with fresh greens and basil, and garlic from our garden (goal of at least 10 half pints)
  • cook and freeze at least two quarts of greens (kale or swiss chard) for use in winter soups/stews
  • freeze fresh berries (goal of at least three quarts of raspberries, five quarts of blueberries, five quarts of blackberries)
  • make and freeze applesauce (goal of at least three quarts this month, at least 10 quarts total for the season)
  • peel, slice, and freeze peaches (goal of at least five quarts)
  • make at least 10 half pints of peach salsa
  • make at least 10 half pints of peach rosemary jam
  • make at least 10 half pints of mixed berry jam
  • make at least five half pints of apple butter
The canning will be tough this year with the boys, but if I can meet these goals, then it will make Christmas gifting so much easier since all the prep work will be done.

What about you?  What are your July menu plans?  Are you putting up any summer produce for later use?